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Fish fail

Wednesday, 2nd October, 2019

A large cod caught last month near Menindee. PICTURE: Myles Burt A large cod caught last month near Menindee. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Craig Brealey

About 25 Murray Cod that were moved last month from the Darling River in an effort to save them have been found dead.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries said yesterday that it had received reports that the dead fish were found at the junction of the Darling and Murray rivers.

They were among the hundreds of native fish that were taken in recent weeks from the Darling south of Menindee’s Weir 32 and from pools in the river near Pooncarie.

On September 11, DPI Fisheries staff began the rescue mission by stunning the fish and transporting them in trucks to the river at Wentworth to give them a better chance of surviving.

The mission was launched to save some native species, namely Murray Cod, golden perch and silver perch, from the fate of the estimated three million that died in the lower Darling last summer.

The hope was that they could return when the river flowed again.

It was suspected that the 25 Murray Cod had died from the stress of being moved, DPI Fisheries said.

“This is an unfortunate reality of moving stressed fish during the ongoing drought conditions, even using trained experts and effective methods, and highlights the challenges we face protecting native fish,” said a spokesperson for the department. 

The rescue operation on the Darling was part of a state-wide strategy to provide “a lifeline for key native species” in drought-stricken parts of NSW, the spokesperson said, and it would continue.

“With the assistance of Victorian government staff, technicians will continue relocating adult Murray Cod and Golden Perch this week from the isolated pools of the Darling to more secure habitats.” 

Fisheries staff had moved almost 800 large adult fish to the lowest reach of the Darling River at Wentworth where there was ample water, said the spokesperson, and many of the Murray Cod were more than a metre long.

“These fish are the major contributors to spawning and population growth within our rivers.

“A small number of adult Murray Cod have been relocated to local hatcheries. This will enhance our restocking capacity of native fish when conditions improve and allow those brood stock to be subsequently returned to the Lower Darling.”

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